Tester pitches his Iraq strategy on Senate Floor

Senator also signs on as cosponsor of troop readiness measure

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) –Jon Tester today introduced to his Senate colleagues his three-point strategy for bringing troops home from Iraq and strengthening the military.

Tester's strategy has received national attention since he first outlined the plan during a speech in Helena last week.

During a speech on the Senate Floor today, Tester also announced that he signed on as a cosponsor of a measure he emphasized as part of his three-pronged strategy.  The amendment to the defense authorization bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., requires the military to keep U.S. troops at home for at least the same length of time they're deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"The strength and long-term health of our armed forces is at stake," Tester said in his speech. "More and longer deployments of units with less time to rest and recuperate means we're going to see more casualties in Iraq and more cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and suicide at home."

The Army's data show that soldiers serving multiple deployments in Iraq are 50% more likely to suffer PTSD than soldiers in their first deployment.

The troop readiness amendment will strengthen the military by protecting the mental and physical health of U.S. troops, the first part of Tester's strategy.  Other components include redoubling counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan to refocus the worldwide War on Terrorism, and deauthorizing the Iraq War, which would require President Bush to return to Congress to make a clear case for reauthorizing it.

Tester today also told his Senate colleagues that U.S. troops have successfully completed their original objectives in Iraq: searching for weapons of mass destruction, toppling Saddam Hussein's regime and opening the door to a democratic government.

"The President refuses to support our troops by keeping them in the middle of a civil war with no end in sight," Tester said.  "They fight every day in a war with no plan and no definition of success.  And most importantly, they are dying everyday in a war that the American people do not want to be fighting.  We and our troops deserve better." 

In today's speech Tester also referred to the rising cost of the Iraq War.  A new report out this morning shows American taxpayers are spending $12 billion in Iraq every month.